Monday, April 8, 2013

Social Marketing

I have chosen to develop a teenage pregnancy prevention program. In the case of preventing teenage pregnancy, social marketing can address the perceived benefit of being sexually active (it may be perceived as sexy, cool, or mature). It could also address peer pressure, and the effects of media on adolescent sexuality (Evans, Silber-Ashley, & Gard, 2007).

I would call the program "No Love, No Glove, and Waiting" and I would try to establish a different perspective of norms in adolescent sexual behavior. For example, if the current adolescent perspective is that being sexually active is desirable or "cool", then the program would counter that idea by presenting an alternative that sexual responsibility and waiting to have sex is more socially desirable than being sexually active. Effective programs must present information in a way that is consequential to teens, and the presentation must be effective at their level (Card, 1999). Adolescents are keenly aware of the normative behavior of their teen culture, so it seems appropriate to inspire a change in their perception of what is normal behavior, with a goal that it could become a pervasive, culture-wide perception.

In developing a strategic marketing plan, it is important to identify the product (sexual responsibility) as a beneficial package (Storey, Saffitz, & Rimon, 2008). To do this, I would present sexual responsibility as more desirable than sexual promiscuity. Presenting abstinence and safe sex as a socially and culturally (meaning teen culture) through re-defining norms will provoke a change in their perceptions of sexual activity, similar to how media have established the current norm. This could be accomplished by engaging teens to help convey the messages about the new teen perspective. It will be important to have teens talking to teens. A program like this cannot be presented wholly by an adult to whom teens cannot relate.

By pairing the idea of desirability with sexual responsibility, the barriers to change would be decreased. This is especially true for adolescents who tend to want to belong to the majority teen culture. Peer pressure is more powerful in adolescents than during any other developmental period in life (Jaccard, Blanton, & Dodge, 2005). This program will use the strength of peer pressure to develop the new norm for sexual responsibility. By complying with the new norm, there is an additional benefit, which is the acceptance of peers.

This program will take place within the school, where adolescents should be able to find information and support, and possibly condoms, and where large and smaller group meetings can take place. Storey et al. (2008) gave the example of condom vending machines in night clubs. Although this may not be appropriate in a middle school, there is a need for the easy acquisition of information, peer support, and contraceptives. The program would establish peer groups that would continue to meet as agreed upon. This fills the need for social support that is so important during adolescence (Gardner & Steinberg, 2005). The students would be encouraged to plan events that keep students in larger groups that may decrease sexual activity. If the adolescents are similar to the sensation-seeking teens that Storey et al. (2008) suggests, it may be beneficial and effective to have adolescent parents speak about the challenges and frustrations that accompany teen parenting.

The theory of reasoned action and planned behavior (TRA) best relates to the program and my social marketing strategies. TRA states that an individuals' intention to behave a certain way is strongly related to actually behaving that way, and that people make conscious decisions based on rational thinking (Glanz, Rimer,& Viswanath, 2008; Redding, Rossi, Rossi, Velicer & Prochaska, 2000). Further, because the program is establishing a normative belief, the adolescents will be highly motivated to comply. The program to reduce teenage pregnancy has identified the motives for action, which is the increased desirability of sexual responsibility with little to no psychological cost. It's goal was to change adolescent beliefs about the consequences of unplanned sex, and create a new norm for the adolescent population. They will begin to see sexual responsibility as normal for their culture and will fulfill the adolescent need to belong (Gardner & Steinberg, 2005). The greatest recipient of the attitude change is adolescents, although parents and society in general are stakeholders in supporting this change in attitude.


Card, J. (1999). Teen pregnancy prevention: do any programs work?. Annual Review Of Public Health, 20257-285.

Evans, W. D., Silber-Ashley, O., & Gard, J. (2007). Social marketing as a strategy to reduce unintended adolescent pregnancy. The Open Communication Journal, 1(1), 1-8. doi: 10.2174/1874916X00701010001

Gardner, M., & Steinberg, L. (2005). Peer influence on risk-taking, risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and adulthood: An experimental study. Developmental Psychology, 41(4), 625–635.

Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., & Viswanath, K. (Eds.). (2008). Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Jaccard, J., Blanton, H. & Dodge, T. (2005). Peer influences on risk behavior: An analysis of the effects of a close friend. Developmental Psychology, 41(1), 135–147.

Storey, J. D., Saffitz, G. B., & Romon, J. G. (2008). Chapter 19, Social Marketing. In Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed., pp. 435-464). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Redding, C. A., Rossi, J. S., Rossi, S. R., Velicer, W. F., & Prochaska, J. O. (2000). The International Electronic Journal of Health Education, 3, 180-193.

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